The experience in my offices in the Toronto area suggests that the housing boom is persuading many Canadians to become real estate agents.

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Eight of the 32 agents at IQI Canada, or almost one-third, previously worked in other industries. Two trainees are still studying to become agents and hope to do so within the next six months.

Those of us already in the industry know that real estate permits a certain amount of entrepreneurial freedom that you just can’t obtain in a corporate job. Real estate also provides a more direct connection between what you put into your career and what you get out of it. It’s hard to get this sort of entrepreneurial reward in most professions. The best agents love being in charge of their own destiny.

But it’s not just a better work environment that is drawing in the new recruits. Many would-be agents imagine that they can earn easy money as an agent, given that prices have been surging. The average home price in Toronto is more than $1 million. An agent might typically earn a commission of about $25,000 selling a property at this price. A lot of people look at that equation and think, “I can do that.”

Everyone reading this in REM has learned that being a real estate agent is actually hard work, but someone new to the business may not realize just how hard.

I know several people who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. For them, the booming real estate market makes becoming an agent seem like an obvious alternative. Even though losing your job is traumatic, it’s viewed as an opportunity for some people who dreamed about becoming an agent but were afraid to take the plunge. Being at loose ends means they can finally go ahead with it.

I believe that the real estate market is only going to go on to further strengths as we move into 2022. With the government aiming to bring about 1.2 million immigrants into the country over the next three years, household formation is likely to remain high. Supply will be short.

Whether you want to work with local buyers or overseas buyers, with new homes or second-hand property, there is plenty of opportunity to go around.

For long-time agents, this surge of new recruits is a mixed blessing. Senior agents who rely on rookies to serve as juniors on their team might find the surge of newbies to be to their advantage. They can expand their team and thus attend open houses, post more signs and knock on more doors.

On the other hand, some of the new agents were outstanding professionals in their prior fields and can immediately become competitors to long-standing agents in the same market. While such competition may ultimately be good for buyers and sellers, that doesn’t make it any less painful for those on the receiving end.

Real estate is a rewarding career and there is room for new agents with new ways of doing things. If they expect becoming an agent to be more rewarding than their prior careers, they are likely to be proved right. If they expect to earn easy money, they are likely to be severely disappointed.

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